End inefficiency, graft in the issuance of passports

The government allocates substantial resources every year to provision of basic services to the citizens, hence the public expectation of efficiency.

However, something seems to have gone pretty awry with the issuance of passports, yet Kenyans need to travel abroad, whether for business or leisure and also studies. In addition, many Kenyans have been increasingly going for specialised treatment for cancer and other illnesses abroad.

The Immigration Department is one of the top spenders of taxpayer funds. The issuance of passports must, therefore, be done efficiently. Instead, many Kenyans are subjected to the shame of having to wait for inordinately long periods of time for a service that should be concluded within a few days. Some have complained that they have been waiting for months for the processing of their applications for either new passport or renewal of the travel document.

This is why Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki’s promise to make the processing and printing of passports efficient is welcome. Kenyans should not miss crucial appointments simply because some official is sleeping on the job. The citizens’ right to any document must never be compromised.

Revealing that there are 42,000 pending applications, Prof Kindiki has vowed to not only get the faulty and obsolete printing machine at the directorate fixed within a week but also ensure that the backlog is cleared within 21 days. Surely, the directorate can afford a new printer with state-of-the-art technology, which costs around Sh150 million. It receives billions annually from the Exchequer, with Sh2.6 billion allocated in the last financial year and Sh2.7 billion for this one.

Another notorious factor is corruption, through which crooked officials mint money from desperate applicants. The applicants’ travel plans should not be hampered by inefficiency. We should by now have forgotten about when rent-seekers ruled Nyayo House. Kenyans deserve efficient public services as they pay taxes to enable all these entities to operate efficiently.